Safety concerns raised over closure of path/cycleway during Festival

A concerned resident writes in the Sidmouth Herald:

Closure of The Ham Path/Cycleway to the Public, for the proposed Jazz and Blues Festival, 2022:

The Sidmouth Town Clerk, the Chairman and Sidmouth Town Councillors have allowed The Ham path/cycleway to be closed to the public.

During the proposed Jazz and Blues Festival for 2022 the plan is for the path/cycleway to the Esplanade to be closed for the 7 day duration of the Festival.

The Festival proposes to fence off the path/cycleway and the whole of the grassed area of The Ham preventing public use.

(They also propose to have the Alma Bridge ‘boarded off’ to prevent viewing from the bridge).

Concerns are raised about access and mobility issues which will be caused for those who cannot easily be diverted and go around and over the small bridge, along the riverside path: those who are frail, disabled, in wheelchairs or with motorised wheelchairs, as well as those cycling or walking to and from the seafront.

The small bridge to the riverside can be a dangerous hazard.

An excessive 2,000 people are expected to attend the proposed Jazz and Blues Festival on The Ham (1,000 more than the Folk Week Marquee accomodates) adding increased access and safety issues to, and from, the Esplanade and Town.

Festival traffic, pedestrian and motorised traffic of all sorts will be channelled, dangerously, through York Street and around The Ham area itself.

The Ham path/cycleway has never been cut off from Public use in living memory.

Sidmouth Town Council have provided no information about this Festival plan, or it’s consequences, or that it is going to EDDC Licensing Committee.

The Application Notice asking for Objections is not easily seen by the Public-one was placed (out of the way?) in the corner of The Ham where few people go-; the Site Plan which shows the details of what is proposed, has to be requested and has been difficult to obtain from EDDC Licensing (the Organiser said they weren’t able to provide it to local residents- it is on one sheet of paper). The view from the EDDC Licensing Manager is that it is up to the Organiser to decide where they put the Application Notice to inform the Public of their proposals.

A second letter on this matter was sent to local residents. This had been the opportunity for Sidmouth Town Council and the Festival Organiser to be open and transparent with local residents and Sidmouth Townfolk about it’s plans: it has failed again to do this.

Many Sidmouth residents are unaware that this is proposed and the difficulties it will cause to many.

Stephen Pemberton,